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Happy Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse! Also known as the Lunar New Year it’s one of the largest holidays in Vietnam. There it’s known as Tet and its customary to give calendars as gifts. To celebrate this holiday, and raise awareness of the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys, Denver Zoo has once again funded a conservation education calendar. It highlights these unique endangered primates and raises awareness of their value to the surrounding community.
My name is Brad Parks and I’m one of four Denver Zoo education and conservation staff who have worked with Vietnamese teachers, students, park officials, and the local people living around these critically endangered species. About 150 of these rare monkeys live high on a mountain forest in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, and in no zoos anywhere in the world. Because this is the only population of these primates that are protected and increasing in number, Denver Zoo funds conservation efforts there and follows this Tet tradition by distributing 6,000 educational monkey calendars.
The photo shows pupils at Tung Ba Elementary School lining up to receive and display their 2014 calendars. From this courtyard the children can see the monkey’s mountaintop home as they pose. There’s something about formal photos that typically result in very formal faces. You’ll have to trust me when I share that they really do smile when the cameras go away! I have become very fond of this school, its teachers, its principal Mrs. Lien, and the people of the area. They have embraced our environmental education programs and are committed to supporting the conservation of this unique animal. I’m certainly smiling knowing we are making a difference as we embark on our seventh year of working there, and again wish you a Happy New Year, or as they say in Vietnam, “Chúc mừng năm mới!”
Photo credit: Lo Thi Thuy Lien
Calendar photos and snub-nosed monkey photo below provided by: Le Khac Quyet and Le Dung
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Vietnam is home to 16% of the world’s species of animals, many of which are threatened with extinction. Projects include research on the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, of which there are fewer than 200 individuals left on the planet.